Tuesday, 07 June 2022
Written by D.G. Martin
Would you be interested in a new privately published memoir by a Bozeman, Montana lawyer, titled “Tilting at Montana’s Windmills for 50 Years”?
But what if he were my law school classmate? Still, no?
But what if I told you my classmate-author had been the lawyer for Charles Kuralt's long-time extramarital lover in her effort, after Kuralt's death, to secure a valuable tract of land in Montana that Kuralt had promised her before he died?
Does that get you interested?
Kuralt was beloved by people all over the country, but especially in his native North Carolina, for his human-interest stories on CBS TV’s “On-the-Road” and “Sunday Morning” programs. His warm, authoritative voice with perfectly pitched rhythms was irresistibly convincing.
Kuralt was married for many years to his second wife, Petie, and they lived together in New York City. Only a few people knew about his dual life and his long-term friendship and financial support for Patricia Shannon.
My Yale Law School classmate, Jim Goetz, is a hero in Montana for his work saving creeks and rivers. In his memoir, Goetz writes that Kuralt, “who fished in Montana, particularly in September, purchased land located on the Big Hole River.”
Kuralt and Shannon had planned for him to convey this property to her in the fall of 1997 when Kuralt would be in Montana to fish. Earlier, however, Kuralt became very ill, suffering from lupus.
To reassure Shannon about his intention to convey the parcel of Montana land on which she was living Kuralt wrote the following:
"June 18, 1997 Dear Pat - Something is terribly wrong with me and they can't figure out what. After cat-scans and a variety of cardiograms, they agree it's not lung cancer or heart trouble or blood clot. So they're putting me in the hospital today to concentrate on infectious diseases. I am getting worse, barely able to get out of bed, but still have high hopes for recovery ... if only I can get a diagnosis! Curiouser and curiouser! I'll keep you informed. I'll have the lawyer visit the hospital to be sure you inherit the rest of the place in MT [Montana] cx. if it comes to that. I send love to you … Hope things are better there! Love, C.”
Kuralt died in a New York hospital on July 4, 1997, at age 62.
Goetz agreed to represent Shannon. Although it was clear from the handwritten letter that Kuralt intended to give the land to Shannon, Goetz writes that the sole issue is whether the language or the letter “is sufficient to establish Kuralt’s intent to devise that property to Shannon.” Goetz writes that most of the estate lawyers he talked to thought that the language was “well short” of what is required to constitute a valid will.
The judge in the first hearing agreed, ruling against Goetz and Shannon. But after four appeals to the Montana Supreme Court, “the first in 1999, the fourth in 2003,” they won. Shannon was awarded the property.
Goetz acknowledges, “Although we won, most estate lawyers I’ve talked to think the result was wrong. Nevertheless, the case is discussed routinely in many courses in law schools around the country, probably because of Charles Kuralt’s celebrity status.”
Goetz does not have a high opinion of Kuralt. He writes, “My impression, by the way, is that Kuralt, although a very warm public personality, had a dark, depressive streak. Rumor was around Dillon [Montana] that he and Shannon were heavy drinkers.”
Goetz is a good friend and is entitled to his opinion, but if he ever comes to visit, after I thank him for his fascinating book about lawyering for good causes in Montana, I will remind him that for me and most others in this state, Kuralt will always be one of North Carolina’s great heroes.
Tuesday, 24 May 2022
Written by Ashley Shirley
Fayetteville native and spoken word artist Lawrence "Law" Bullock II is preparing to share his fifth book of poetry through a reading at The Sweet Palette on Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. "Abstract Intoxication: A Poetry Reading" is Bullock's first one-man show, and he's excited to bring his art to the people of a city he loves so much.
"I'm nervous, but being nervous is a good thing. It means you care about what you're about to do or say," Bullock explained to Up & Coming Weekly.
A lifelong writer, the thirty-one-year-old poet, will share his most personal writing to date in the pages of "Abstract Intoxication," a title he feels aptly expresses the subject matter therein.
"The title came about because I wanted something to catch your attention and make you think. I don't want to be direct in my work — I love art that makes you see more than what's there. Intoxication comes from a love for your craft that's so strong it intoxicates you."
Bullock's work in this series touches on many topics, some dark, but all true to the poet himself. According to Bullock, addiction, reflection and a heavy emphasis on mental health make this work daring but necessary.
"For this particular show, I want to break mental health stigma and start an important conversation," Bullock said. "This book is the most intimate in terms of my backstory. Sometimes I don't remember everything that's happened to me; it comes and goes in flashes. This book is my attempt to hold on to those flashes."
The book and its message offer comfort and hope to those struggling with mental health. "We all go through the battles, but we're not alone," Bullock explained. "Mental health is a universal issue. Just because you're down or struggling doesn't mean there's something wrong with you."
Bullock was awarded a mini-grant by The Arts Council of Fayetteville to cover printing costs and art fees to bring Abstract Intoxication and its message to life.
The support for poets and other artists in the Fayetteville area is something Bullock would love to see more of from the community. He hopes readings like this bring more exposure to those wanting to share more of their craft.
"I want people to leave with a better sense and love of poetry. Just as with mental health, there's a stigma around poetry as well. So many people misunderstand it. I've been a vendor at a lot of events this year, and you can tell the people who are interested in poetry but don't know where or how to start. We need more people to come and support this awesome community."
Bullock is especially excited to share his work at The Sweet Palette, a premier bakery and art gallery in downtown Fayetteville.
"We've done a lot of shows at The Sweet Palette," Bullock said. "It has done so much for us poets in general and is the perfect place for this series — I'll have artwork behind me. Anyone who wants to have a good time on a Friday night should come to check it out."
The show will be about forty minutes long with plenty of breaks so people can enjoy delicious desserts and check out the work adorning the exposed brick walls.
Bullock invites "anyone seeking to understand spoken word poetry" and those who want a more intimate take on mental health.
As for himself and his work, Bullock is grateful for the opportunity to share his art with others.
"You can't be afraid to let people know what you have going on," he said of the show. "We're given gifts that we're not meant to hold on to —someone needs it."
The Sweet Palette is located at 101 Person St. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/529058305375168. To find more information on poetry and poets in Fayettville, visit www.facebook.com/groups/poetryinfayetteville.